CITY OF PANAMA.
We will find, however, that with this, as with most other South American cities,
"'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, And clothes the mountain with its azure hue."
The city of Panama is situated on the shores of the bay of that name, and a most beautiful bay it is, too. What is the number of the present population, I cannot say, as it is doubtless filled with strangers—it formerly contained from 5000 to 7000 inhabitants, and was a quiet, still city, where, during the day, nought but the sounds of the convent bell and church bells disturbed the horses of the citizens in their grazings in the public squares, which were all overgrown with grass. The trade carried on consisted in importing dry goods from Jamaica, for the supply of the Isthmenians, the neighboring produce of Veragua, the Pearl Islands, the towns of Chiriqui, David, and their vicinities, and the various little inland towns. Goods also were sent down to the ports of Payta, in Peru, and Guayaquil, in the Ecuador. The returns made for these goods, consisted in the produce of the Isthmus: such as gold dust, hides, India rubber, pearl oyster shells, (from which the mother of pearl of commerce is made,) sarsaparilla, &c. The climate is warm, say from 80 to 85 degrees all the year round—the rainy season long and severe. The nights in Panama, however, are much cooler than usual in tropical climate.
The other route is the overland, by Independence. The details of this route are given below by Mr. Edwin Bryant, the author of "What I saw in California." They were communicated to the Louisville Courier in answer to questions but to Mr. B. by the editor:
First—Which route by land is the best for the emigrant?
Answer—The route via Independence or St. Joseph, Missouri, to Fort Daramie, South Pass, Fort Hall, the Sink of Mary's River, &c. &c. the old route. Let no emigrant, carrying his family with him, deviate from it, or imagine to himself that he can find a better road. This road is the best that has yet been discovered, and to the Bay of San Francisco and the gold regions it is much the shortest. The Indians, moreover, on this route, have, up to the present time been so friendly as to commit no acts of hostility on the emigrants. The trail is plain and good, where there are no physical obstructions and the emigrant, by taking this route, will certainly reach his destination in good season, and without disaster. From our information we would most earnestly advise all emigrants to take this trail, without deviation, if they would avoid the fatal calamities which almost invariably have attended those who have undertaken to explore new routes.
Second—What kind of wagon and team is preferable?
Answer—The lightest wagon that can be constructed of sufficient strength to carry 2,500 pounds weight, as the vehicle most desirable. No wagon should be loaded over this weight, for if it is, it will be certain to stall in the muddy sloughs and crossings on the prairie in the first part of the journey. This wagon can be hauled by three or four yokes of oxen or six mules. Oxen are usually employed by the immigrants for hauling their wagons. They travel about fifteen miles per day, and all things considered, are perhaps equal to mules for this service, although they cannot travel so fast. They are, however, less expensive, and there is not so much danger of their starving and of being stolen by the Indians.
Pack-mules can only be employed by parties of men. It would be very difficult to transport a party of women and children on pack-mules with the provisions, clothing and baggage necessary to their comfort. A party of men, however, with pack-mules, can make the journey in less time by one month than it can be done in wagons, carrying with them, however, nothing more than their provisions clothing and ammunition.
For parties of men going out, it would be well to haul their wagons, provisions, &c., as far as Fort Laramie or Fort Hall by mules, carrying with them pack-saddles and alforgases, or large saddle-bags, adapted to the pack saddle, with ropes for packing, &c., when, if they saw proper, they could dispose of their wagons for Indian ponies, and pack into California, gaining perhaps two or three weeks' time.
Third—What provisions are necessary to a man?
Answer— The provisions actually necessary per man are as follows.
Of Flour, .....150 lbs. Of Bacon, ..... 150 lbs. Coffee,..... 25 " Sugar, ...... 30 "
Added to these, the main items, there should be a small quantity of rice, fifty or seventy-five pounds of crackers, dried peaches, &c., and a keg of lard, with salt, pepper, &c., with such other luxuries of light weight as the person out-fitting chooses to purchase. He will think of them before he starts.
Fourth—What arms and ammunition are necessary?
Answer—Every man should be provided with a good rifle, and if convenient with a pair of pistols, five pounds of powder and ten pounds of lead. A revolving belt pistol may be found useful.
With the wagon there should be carried such carpenter's tools as a hand- saw, auger, gimblet, chisel, shaving-knife, &c., an axe, hammer, and hatchet. The last weapon every man should have in his belt, with a hunter's or a bowie knife.
Fifth—What is the length of the journey?
Answer—From Independence to the first settlement in California, which is near the gold region, is about 2050 miles—to San Francisco, 2290 miles.
Sixth—What is the time for starting?
Answer—Emigrants should be at Independence, St. Joseph, Mo., or the point of starting, by the 20th of April, and start as soon thereafter as the grass on the prairies will permit. This is sometimes by the first of May, and sometimes ten days later, according to the season.
* * * * *
THE GOLD REGIONS—MISCELLANEOUS MATTER.
The following extract is from a letter written by Thomas O. Larkin to Mr. Buchanan, the Secretary of State. It is dated at Monterey, June 28, 1848.
I am of the opinion that on the American fork, Feather River, and Copimes River, there are near two thousand people, nine-tenths of them foreigners. Perhaps there are one hundred families, who have their teams, wagons and tents. Many persons are waiting to see whether the months of July and August will be sickly, before they leave their present business to go to the "Placer." The discovery of this gold was made by some Mormons, in January or February, who for a time kept it a secret; the majority of those who are working there began in May. In most every instance the men, after digging a few days, have been compelled to leave for the purpose of returning home to see their families, arrange their business and purchase provisions. I feel confident in saying there are fifty men in this "placer" who have on an average $1000 each, obtained in May and June. I have not met with any person who had been fully employed in washing gold one month; most, however, appear to have averaged an ounce per day. I think there must, by, this time, be over 1000 men at work upon the different branches of the Sacramento; putting their gains at $10,000 per day, for six days in the week, appears to me not overrated.
Should this news reach the emigration of California and Oregon, now on the road, connected with the Indian wars, now impoverishing the latter country, we should have a large addition to our population; and should the richness of the gold region continue, our emigrants in 1849 will be many thousand, and in 1850 still more. If our countrymen in California as clerks, mechanics and workmen will forsake employment at from $2 to $6 per day, how many more of the same class in the Atlantic States, earning much less, will leave for this country under such prospects? It is the opinion of many who have visited the gold regions the past and present months, that the ground will afford gold for many years, perhaps for a century. From my own examination of the rivers and their banks, I am of opinion that, at least for a few years, the golden products will equal the present year. However, as neither men of science, nor the laborers now at work, have made any explorations of consequence, it is a matter of impossibility to give any opinion as to the extent and richness of this part of California. Every Mexican who has seen the place says throughout their Republic there has never been any "placer like this one."
Could Mr. Polk and yourself see California as we now see it, you would think that a few thousand people, on 100 miles square of the Sacramento valley, would yearly turn out of this river the whole price our country pays for the acquired territory. When I finished my first letter I doubted my own writing, and, to be better satisfied, showed it to one of the principal merchants of San Francisco, and to Capt. Folsom, of the Quartermaster's Department, who decided at once I was far below the reality. You certainly will suppose, from my two letters, that I am, like others, led away by the excitement of the day. I think I am not. In my last I inclosed a small sample of the gold dust, and I find my only error was in putting a value to the sand. At that time I was not aware how the gold was found; I now can describe the mode of collecting it.
A person without a machine, after digging off one or two feet of the upper ground, near the water (in some cases they take the top earth,) throws into a tin pan or wooden bowl a shovel full of loose dirt and stones; then placing the basin an inch or two under water, continues to stir up the dirt with his hand in such a manner that the running water will carry off the light earths, occasionally, with his hand, throwing out the stones; after an operation of this kind for twenty or thirty minutes, a spoonful of small black sand remains; this is, on a handkerchief or cloth, dried in the sun, the emerge is blown off, leaving the pure gold. I have the pleasure of inclosing a paper of this sand and gold, which I, from a bucket of dirt and stones, in half an hour, standing at the edge of the water, washed out myself. The value of it may be $2 or $3.
The size of the gold depends in some measure upon the river from which it is taken, the banks of one river having larger grains of gold than another. I presume more than one-half of the gold put into pans or machines is washed out and goes down the stream; this is of no consequence to the washers, who care only for the present time. Some have formed companies of four or five men, and have a rough-made machine put together in a day, which worked to much advantage, yet many prefer to work alone, with a wooden bowl or tin pan, worth fifteen or twenty cents in the States, but eight to sixteen dollars at the gold region. As the workmen continue, and materials can be obtained, improvements will take place in the mode of obtaining gold; at present it is obtained by standing in the water, and with much severe labor, or such as is called here severe labor.
How long this gathering of gold by the handful will continue here, or the future effect it will have on California, I cannot say. Three-fourths of the houses in the town on the Bay of San Francisco are deserted. Houses are sold at the price of the ground lots. The effects are this week showing themselves in Monterey. Almost every house I had hired out is given up. Every blacksmith, carpenter and lawyer is leaving; brick yards, saw mills and ranches are left perfectly alone. A large number of the volunteers at San Francisco and Sonoma have deserted; some have been retaken and brought back; public and private vessels are losing their crews: my clerks have had 100 per cent advance offered them on their wages to accept employment. A complete revolution in the ordinary state of affairs is taking place; both of our newspapers are discontinued from want of workmen and the loss of their agencies; the Alcaldes have left San Francisco, and I believe Sonoma likewise; the former place has not a Justice of the Peace left.
The second Alcalde of Monterey to-day joins the keepers of our principal hotel, who have closed their office and house, and will leave tomorrow for the golden rivers. I saw on the ground a lawyer who was last year Attorney General of the King of the Sandwich Islands, digging and washing out his ounce and a half per day; near him can be found most all his brethren of the long robe, working in the same occupation.
To conclude; my letter is long, but I could not well describe what I have seen in less words, and I now can believe that my account may be doubted; if the affair proves a bubble, a mere excitement, I know not how we can all be deceived, as we are situated. Gov. Mason and his staff have left Monterey to visit the place in question, and will, I suppose, soon forward to his department his views and opinions on this subject. Most of the land where gold has been discovered, is public land; there are, on different rivers, some private grants. I have three such, purchased in 1846 and '47, but have not learned that any private lands have produced gold, though they may hereafter do so.
* * * * *
Here is a letter of great sprightliness, beauty and interest, prepared by that finished scholar and noted writer, the Rev. Walter Colton, Alcalde of Monterey.
MONTEREY, California, Aug. 29, 1848.
The gold discoveries still continue—every day brings some new deposit to light. It has been found in large quantities on the Sacramento, Feather River, Yerba River, the American fork—North and South branches—the Cosamer, and in many dry ravines, and indeed on the tops of high hills The tract of country in which it is ascertained to exist, extends some two hundred miles North and South, and some sixty East and West; and these limits are every day enlarging by new discoveries. On the streams where the gold has been subjected to the action of water and sand, it exists in fine grains; on the hills and among the clefts of the rocks it is found in rough, jagged pieces of a quarter or half an ounce in weight, and sometimes two or three ounces.
The gold is obtained in a variety of ways; some wash it out of the sand with bowls, some with a machine made like a cradle, only longer and open at the foot, while at the other end, instead of a squalling infant, there is a grating upon which the earth is thrown, and then water; both pass through the grating,—the cradle is rocked, and being on an inclined plane, the water carries off the earth, and the gold is deposited in the bottom of the cradle. So the two things most prized in this world, gold and infant beauty, are both rocked out of their primitive stage, one to pamper pride, and the other to pamper the worm. Some forego cradles and bowls as too tame an occupation, and mounted on horses, half wild, dash up the mountain gorges and over the steep hills, picking the gold from the clefts of the rocks with their bowie knives,—a much better use to make of these instruments than picking the life out of men's bodies; for what is a man with that article picked out of him?
A larger party, well mounted, are following up the channel of the Sacramento, to discover where this gold, found in its banks, comes from; and imagine that near the river's fount they will find the great yellow mass itself. But they might as well hunt the fleeting rainbow. The gold was thrown up from the bed of the ocean with the rocks and sands in which it is found; and still bears, where it has escaped the action of the element, vivid traces of volcanic fire. It often encases a crystal of quartz, in which the pebble lies as if it had slumbered there from eternity; its beautiful repose sets human artifice at defiance. How strange that this ore should have lain here, scattered about in all directions, peeping everywhere out of the earth, and sparkling in the sun, and been trod upon for ages by white men and savages, and by the emissaries of every scientific association in the world, and never till now have been discovered! What an ass man is, with all his learning! He stupidly stumbles over hills of gold to reach a rare pepper pod, or rifle a bird's nest!
The whole country is now moving on the mines. Monterey, San Francisco, Sonoma, San Jose, and Santa Cruz, are emptied of their male population. A stranger coming here would suppose he had arrived among a race of women, who, by some anomalous provision of nature, multiplied their images without the presence of the other sex. But not a few of the women have gone too, especially those who had got out of tea—for what is women without her tea pot—a pythoness without her shaking trypod—an angel that has lost his lyre. Every bowl, tray, warming-pan, and piggin has gone to the mines. Everything in short, that has a scoop in it that will hold sand and water. All the iron has been worked up into crow-bars, pick-axes and spades. And all these roll back upon us in the shape of gold. We have, therefore, plenty of gold, but little to eat, and still less to wear. Our supplies must come from Oregon, Chili and the United States. Our grain gold, in exchange for coin, sells for nine and ten dollars the ounce, though it is well known to be worth at the mint in Philadelphia eighteen dollars the ounce at least. Such is the scarcity of coin here.
We want a mint. Let Congress send us one at once over the Isthmus; else this grain gold goes to Mazatlan, to Chili and Peru—where it is lost to our national currency. Over a million of gold, at the lowest computation, is taken from these mines every month—-and this quantity will be more than doubled when the emigration from they States, from Oregon, the Sandwich Islands, and the Southern republics arrives. Send us a mint! I could give you forty more illustrations of the extent and productiveness of these mines, but no one will believe what I have said without my name, and perhaps but few with it.
* * * * *
LETTER FROM CAPT. FOLSOM.
The latest and most authentic intelligence from the Gold Regions of California, is the most interesting and the best. The following letter from Capt. Folsom, it will be seen, is of recent date; and on perusal the reader will find it is pregnant with valuable facts:
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, Oct. 8th, 1848.
MY DEAR SIR:—The prices of labor here will create surprise in the United States. Kannakas, or Sandwich Islanders, the worst of laborers, are now employed constantly about town in storing and landing merchandise at a dollar an hour each; and the most indifferent laborers are hired by the week together at six or eight dollars per day. Mechanics obtain, when employed by the day, eight or ten dollars per day, and by the month about six. In a few days, as the sickly season is over, I presume wages will advance, for most of the laboring classes are returning to the mines.
I have just completed the repairs upon a government lighter, preparatory to discharging the cargo of the transport ship Huntress. I attempted to hire a lighter to effect this, but could not get one capable of containing one hundred and twenty barrels manned by two men, short of fifty dollars per day. I have had the master of the government lighter employed for several days in getting a crew for her; and when he offers $80 per month for sailors, he is laughed at, and told that a man can get that amount at the mines in one day.
A few days since, I sent a wagon-master to employ some men to handle stores in the public warehouse. After searching about the town in vain, for several hours, he saw a man on the dock whom he felt sure of getting, for the individual in question did not seem to be blessed with a redundancy of this world's gear. He was wearing a slouched hat without a crown, a dilapidated buckskin hunting shirt or frock, a very uncleanly red woolen shirt, with pantaloons hanging in tatters, and his feet had an apology for a covering in one old shoe, and one buckskin moccasin, sadly the worse for wear and age. When asked if he wanted employment, he replied in the affirmative; and as the young man was proceeding to tell him what he wished to have him do, he was interrupted with "It is not that kind of work, sir, that I want; (at the same time taking a bag containing about two quarts of gold dust from his buckskin shirt,) I want to work in the mines, sir. Look here, stranger, do you see this? This bag contains gold dust; and do you suppose I am to make a d——d nigger of myself, handling boxes and barrels for eight or ten dollars per day? I should think not, stranger!" And our friend left in a most contemptuous manner. Nor was this a solitary instance of like conduct; they occur daily and hourly in this village.
All sorts of labor is got at enormous rates of compensation. Common clerks and salesmen in the stores about town often receive as high as $2500 and their board. The clerk now in my office is a young boy, who, until a few weeks since, was a private of volunteers, and I am now paying him $1500 per annum. This will not appear high, when I tell you that I have just seen upon his table a wash bill, made out and paid, at the rate of eight dollars per dozen; and that almost every thing else is at corresponding prices. The principal waiter in the hotel where I board is paid $1,700 per year, and several others from $1,200 to $1,500. I fortunately have an Indian boy, or I should be forced to clean my own boots, for I could not employ a good body servant for the full amount of my salary as a government officer. It will be impossible for any army officer to live here upon his pay without becoming rapidly impoverished, for his time is not his own to enter upon business; and although he might have money, his opportunities for making it useful to him are few, unless he invests it in real estate. Unless something is done, I am unable to see how it is possible for officers, living upon the salaries granted by law to military men, to support themselves in this country.
I believe every army officer in California, with one or two exceptions, would have resigned last summer, could they have done it and been free at once to commence for themselves. But the war was not then terminated, and no one could hope to communicate with Washington correspondents, to get an answer in less than six, and perhaps ten months. For some time last summer, (August and July,) the officers at Monterey were entirely without servants; and the Governor (Col. Mason,) actually took his turn in cooking for his mess. Unless some prompt action is taken to pay both officers and men serving in this country, in proportion to the unavoidable expenses to be incurred, the former will resign and the latter will desert, and it will be impossible to maintain a military force in California.
I look upon California as perhaps the richest mineral country on the globe. I have written you at great length as to the gold, and since the date of that letter other and richer mines have been discovered. Rich silver mines are known to exist in various parts of the country, but they are not worked. Quicksilver mines are found at innumerable places, and many of them afford the richest ores. The new Almadin mine at Santa Clara gives the richest ore of which we have any accounts. With very imperfect machinery, it yields upward of fifty per cent, and the proprietors are now working it, and are preparing to quadruple their force. Iron, copper, lead, tin, sulphur, zinc, platinum, cobalt, &c. are said to be found in abundance, and most of them are known to exist in various sections of the country.
As an agricultural territory, its great disadvantage is a want of rain; but this is by no means so great as has been represented. I believe California can be made to produce as fine wheat, rye, oats, buckwheat, barley, vegetables, and fruits, especially grapes, as any portion of the world. Nothing that has been fairly tried has failed, and nearly every thing has produced wonderfully. The portions of the soil which are capable of cultivation are inconsiderable in comparison with the whole area of the country; but the soil about this bay, and in many of the large valleys, is equal to the wants of a dense population. It is proverbially healthy, and with the exception of portions of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, no country ever had, at the same period of its settlement, a more salubrious climate.
I think California affords means for the investment of capital such as few other countries offer. Any person who could come in here now with ready cash would be certain of doubling his money in a few months. Large fortunes will be made here within the ensuing year, and I am told that there are some hundreds of persons who have already made on an average $25,000 each. Whole cargoes of goods are sold at an average of about 150 per cent. clear profit, and ready pay in gold dust.
When I came to this place I expended a few hundred dollars in waste lots, covered with bushes and sand hills. The chapter of events which has followed is likely to make this property quite valuable, if I am able to look after it. What cost me less than $800, I suppose I could now sell for $8,000 or perhaps $10,000. It is this consideration which makes me willing to return to a country where my salary is insufficient for my support. If Congress does not increase the pay of officers serving here, I should still be willing to return, in the expectation that my private interests would justify a measure which would otherwise be certain to impoverish me.
Something should be done here at once for the establishment of peace and good order in the country. All law, both civil and military, is at an end. Among the mines, and indeed in most parts of the country out of the villages, no authority but that of the strongest exists, and outrages of the most disgraceful nature are constantly occurring, and the offenders go unpunished. There are now about twenty-five vessels in this port, and I believe there is not one of them that has a crew to go to sea. Frequently the sailors arm themselves, take the ship's boats, and leave in the most open manner, defying both their officers and the civil magistrates. These things are disgraceful to the country and the flag, and while vessels have to pay port charges, duties, &c., their owners ought to be protected. The tariff law of 1846 is now in force in California.
We have not had an American man-of-war in this port for more than a year, and all the naval resources of the United States on this coast are concentrated at Monterey, which is not a harbor but an open roadstead, and which has not one-tenth of the business on its waters which is done in this bay. During the whole year that I was collector of this port, there was not a gun mounted for commanding the entrance of the port, and there was not a United States man-of-war in the harbor. We were exacting a "military contribution," and we possessed not the slightest means of preventing vessels from leaving in defiance of our authority.
In a few months the line of ocean mail steamers will be in operation from Panama to Oregon, and this port is to be a depot for coal, and of course a stopping point in passing both ways. The starting of the line of steamers on this coast is likely to be an undertaking of very great difficulty, and at this time, such is its importance, with reference to both Oregon and California, that its failure might be looked upon as a national calamity. Still, unless some kind of protection is extended to the shipping of this port, it is not at all improbable that it may fail for want of the necessary laborers, as soon as the boats reach this harbor. Indeed, it is altogether probable, unless some competent authority is found here at the time to preserve order, that the crew will quit in a body as soon as the first vessel arrives.
Every possible assistance should be extended to insure the success of this company, and every reasonable latitude should be granted in the execution of their contract. It is now uncertain if the steamers can enter Columbia river at all times in the winter; and they may find it necessary to run up to Paget's Sound. This would be a small inconvenience in comparison to the loss of one of these vessels upon the very dangerous bar at the mouth of the Columbia—an event not at all improbable, if they enter that river in the winter.
* * * * *
The following letters were communicated to the "Californian" newspaper, and exhibit very graphically the state of excitement and the actual state of things in the Gold Regions during last summer.
NEW HELVETIA, June 30, 1848.
I have just returned from Fort Sacramento, from the gold region, from whence I write this; and in compliance with my promise, on leaving the sea coast, I send you such items as I have gathered.
Our trip after leaving your city, by way of Pueblo, San Jose, and the San Joaquin river, we found very agreeable. Passing over a lovely country, with its valleys and hills covered with the richest verdure, intertwined with flowers of every hue. The country from the San Joaquin river to this place, is rich beyond comparison, and will admit of a dense population.
We found the fort a miniature Manchester, a young Lowell. The blacksmith's hammer, the tinner, the carpenter, and the weaver's shuttle, plying by the ingenuity of Indians, at which place there are several hundred in the employ of Capt. J.A. Sutter. I was much pleased with a walk in a large and beautiful garden attached to the fort. It contains about eight or ten acres, laid out with great taste, under the supervision of a young Swiss. Among the fruit trees I noticed the almond, fig, olive, pear, apple, and peach. The grape vines are in the highest state of cultivation, and for vegetables, I would refer you to a seedman's catalogue.
About three miles from the fort, on the east bank of the Sacramento, the town of Suttersville is laid out. The location is one of the best in the country, situated in the largest and most fertile district in California, and being the depot for the extensive, gold, silver, platina, quicksilver, and iron mines. A hotel is now building for the accomodation of the travelling public, who are now obliged to impose on the kind hospitalities of Capt. Sutter. A party of men who have been exploring a route to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains, have just returned, and report that they have found a good wagon road on the declivity ridge between the American fork and the McCossamy rivers, the distance being much less than by the old route. The road will pass through the gold district, and enter the valley near the American fork.
A ferry is to be established at Suttersville, on the Sacramento, and the road across the tularie improved soon, which will shorten the distance from this place to Sonoma and your city, about 60 miles.
After leaving the fort we passed up on the south bank of the American fork, about twelve miles. This is a beautiful river, about three fathoms deep the water being very cold and clear; and after leaving the river we passed through a country rolling and timbered with oak. We soon commenced ascending the hills at the base of the Sierra Nevada, which are thickly set with oak and pine timber, and soon arrived at a small rivulet. One of our party dipped up a cupful of sand from the bed of the creek, washed it, and found five pieces of gold. This was our first attempt at gold digging. About dark we arrived at the saw-mill of Captain Sutter, having ridden over gold, silver, platina and iron mines, some twenty or thirty miles. The past three days I have spent in exploring the mountains in this district, and conversing with many men who have been at work here for some weeks past. Should I attempt to relate to you all that I have seen, and have been told, concerning the extent and productions of the mines, I am fearful your readers would think me exaggerating too much, therefore I will keep within bounds. I could fill your columns with the most astonishing tales concerning the mines here, far excelling the Arabian Nights, and all true to the letter.
As near as I can ascertain, there are now about 2,000 persons engaged, and the roads leading to the mines are thronged with people and wagons. From one to nine ounces of pure virgin gold per day is gathered by every man who performs the requisite labor. The mountains have been explored for about forty miles, and gold has been found in great abundance in almost every part of them. A gentleman informed me that he had spent some time in exploring the country, and had dug fifty-two holes with his butcher's knife in different places, and found gold in every one.
Several extensive silver mines have been discovered, but very little attention is paid to them now. Immense beds of iron ore, of superior quality, yielding 85 to 90 per cent., have also been found near the American Fork.
A grist mill is to be attached to the saw mill, for the purpose of convenience of families and others settling at the mines. The water power of the American Fork is equal to any upon this continent, and in a few years large iron founderies, rolling, splitting and nail mills will be erected.
The granite of the mountains is superior to the celebrated Quincy. A quarry of beautiful marble has been discovered near the McCossanny river, specimens of which you will see in a few years in the front of the Custom House, Merchants' Exchange, City Hall, and other edifices in your flourishing city.
P. S.-"The cry is still, they come." Two men have just arrived for provisions from the Abjuba river, who state that they have worked five days, and gathered $950 in gold, the largest piece weighing nearly one ounce. They report the quantity on that river to be immense, and in much larger pieces than that taken in other parts.
SONOMA. Aug. 5, 1848.
The mining fever is raging here, as well as elsewhere. Not a mechanic or laboring man can be obtained in town, and most of our male citizens have "gone up" to the Sierra Nevada, and are now enjoying "golden moments." Spades, shovels, pick-axes, hoes, bottles, vials, snuff-boxes, brass tubes, earthern jars, and even barrels, have been put in requisition, and have also abruptly left town.
I have heard from one of our citizens who has been at the Gold Placer a few weeks, and he had collected $1,500 worth of the "root of evil," and was still averaging $100 per day. Another gent, wife and boy collected $500 worth in one day. Another still, who shut up his hotel here some five or six weeks since, has returned with $2,200 in pure virgin gold, collected by his own exertions, with no other aid than a spade, pick and Indian basket.
Three new and valuable lead mines have recently been discovered in this vicinity, and one of our citizens, Mr. John Bowles, of Galena, Ill.—a gent, who has been reported by the Boston press as having been murdered by the Indians, on the Southern route to Oregon, from the States—informed me that the ore would yield 90 per cent., and that it was his intention to erect, as soon as practicable, six large smelting furnaces.
The Colonnade Theatre, at this place, has closed for the season; it was well attended, however, from the time the Thespians made their debut till they made their exit. The "Golden Farmer," the "Omnibus," and a Russian comedy called "Feodora,' (translated from the German of Kotzebue, by Mr. F. Linz, of Sonoma,) were their last attractions.
The military company under command of Capt. J. E. Brackett, are today exchanging posts with Company H., under command of Captain Frisbie, both of the New York Volunteers. Company C. has been stationed with us more than a year, and much praise is due its members, not only for the military and soldier-like manner in which they have acquitted themselves as a corps, but for their gentlemanly and orderly deportment individually and collectively. We regret to part with them, and cannot let them go without expressing a hope that when peace shall have been declared, their regiment disbanded, and their country no longer needs their services, they may have fallen sufficiently in love with our healthy climate and our beautiful valley to come back and settle.
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The New York Evening Post has an article upon this subject, from which we take the following:
The places where it is found are much more numerous than we might at first suppose. The mines of America, however, surpass those of all other countries. Though of comparative newness, they have furnished three times and a half more gold and twelve times more silver than those of the old world. Silver and gold were, before the discovery of America, supposed to bear to each other the relation of 55 to 1. In Europe the proportion is now about 15 to 1.
The gold of Mexico is chiefly found in argentiferous veins, as at Guanaxuato, where it is obtained one ounce in 360. The only auriferous veins, worked as such, are at Oaxaca. The rivers in Caraccas flow over auriferous sands. Peru is not reported rich in gold at present. The gold of New Grenada is found in alluvial soil, and is washed out in the shape of spangles and grains. The gold of Chili, is found under similar circumstances. Brazil formerly brought the most gold to market, not even excepting Russia, which now, however, surpasses her. All the rivers running from the Brazilian mountains have gold, and the annual product of fine metal is now rated at $5,000,000.
There are no very late tables of the products of the American mines. We have ascertained, by accident purely, how the estimate is made at present.
From 1790 to 1830, forty years, the product of Mexico was:—
Gold L6,436,453 Silver 139,818,032
Gold L2,768,488 Silver 1,822,924
Gold L4,024,895 Silver 27,182,673
Add to this Russia—
Gold L2,703,743 Silver 1,502,981
And we have from four countries alone 1880 millions of pounds sterling, or forty-seven millions per annum.
If we add the products of Europe and Asiatic Russia, of the East Indies and Africa, which some estimate at thirty-six tons of gold per annum, we perceive that a vast amount of the precious metal is unearthed and somewhere in use. The relative value of gold has certainly changed very much within a few hundred years, and it probably will change still more. But we do not think it is likely to depreciate one-half in our time, for many reasons, though some persons imagine it will.
The true secret of all this present excitement is this: the Anglo Saxon race, for the first time in their history, own and occupy gold mines of very great value. Hitherto Africans, Asiatic or Indians, have held them, and they have never shown that ardor combined with perseverance which belongs to us. England never had any mines of gold, or she would have worked them as diligently as she has those of coal. The Americans have now a golden chance, and they are the first of their blood that have ever had it. They will be sure to turn the opportunity to account.
At our leisure we will refer to some other interesting facts, in relation to the value of gold at different periods. We conclude with recalling one singular circumstance to the recollection of our readers, that when the Romans captured Jerusalem, they obtained so much gold, that the price of it in Syria fell one half.
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LIEUTENANT L. LOESER, of the Third Artillery, a graduate of West Point, furnishes the following information respecting the gold region:
"We have been favored by Lieutenant Loeser, bearer of dispatches from Governor Mason to the government at Washington (who also brought on about $20,000 of gold dust, which he deposited at Washington,) with a general description of the gold region, the climate, &c., of California. He says the gold region is very large, and there is sufficient ore to profitably employ one hundred thousand persons for generations to come. So far as discovered, the gold is found in an extent of country four hundred miles long, by one hundred and fifty wide, and no particular portion seems more productive than another. In the river and on the flatlands the gold dust is found; but among the rocks and in the highlands it is found in lumps, from the size of a man's hand to the size of an ordinary duck-shot, all of which is solid, and presents the appearance of having been thrown up by a volcanic eruption. So plenty is the gold, that little care is paid to the washing of it by those engaged when he left; the consequence of which is great quantities are thrown away. In the highlands he was walking with a man who found a piece weighing about thirty-five pennyweights, worth $29, but which he purchased for $4. The piece is solid, and has the form of a perfect acorn on the top of it. He has had it, just as it was found, converted into a breastpin. A man, by ordinary labor, may procure from $50 to $200 per day. With regard to the climate, he says, it is salubrious, at no time being so cold as to require more than a light blanket to sleep under. When he left, the people were sleeping under the trees, without the fear of sickness from exposure. The rainy season begins about the first of November, and continues until March, though there are five clear days for every rainy one. Provisions are generally high, at least such as cannot be obtained in the country. Flour is worth $80 per barrel, though a fine bullock may be obtained for $3. Clothing is very high, and the demand is very great. The Indians, who have heretofore used no clothing whatever, now endeavor to imitate the whites, and will give any price for garments. The report relative to the Mormons requiring 30 per cent. of all the gold found, he says, is a mistake. When the gold was first discovered, one of the leaders of that people demanded that amount from all the Mormons, but they remonstrated, and refused to pay it, which remonstrance caused not the slightest difficulty among the people. He was in San Francisco when the gold was first discovered, about forty miles from that place. The news was received one day, and the following morning, out of the whole company to which he was attached, every one deserted except two sergeants, and took with them all the horses belonging to the officers. In a few days the city was almost entirely deserted, and Col. Mason, the governor of the territory, was, and has ever since been, obliged to prepare and cook his own food. A servant cannot be had at any price; and the soldiers have not sufficient pay for a month to subsist on for a week. The salary of the governor is not sufficient to support him; and, like all others in the more wealthy circles of life, he is obliged to be his own servant. He speaks of the country as offering the greatest inducements to young men of enterprise, and thinks there is ample room and gold for hundreds of thousands.
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ADVICE TO THOSE GOING TO CALIFORNIA BY THE CAPES.
The following article, condensed from correspondence in a daily paper of New York City, will be found to contain many valuable hints to the California bound traveler. It came to hand too late to appear in its proper place, where the four different routes are spoken of:
The first grand desideratum is, to secure comfort on the passage, by the most efficient and economical means, thereby, as far as possible insuring the arrival of the company at their destination in good health and condition.
To insure the most perfect health and comfort attainable on so long a voyage, a vessel should not be fitted up as our European passenger ships are, with bunks for the passengers to sleep in, but the berth deck should be free from bulkheads fore and aft. This arrangement would give plenty of room for the company to swing their hammocks or cots, which could be stowed on deck in pleasant weather, leaving the berth deck free from encumbrance, for the company to amuse themselves with conversation or exercise. Such an arrangement would secure a more perfect ventilation (a very important consideration) than bunks could possibly admit of, as bunks unavoidably harbor filth and vermin, besides leaving very little room for the exercise so absolutely necessary in preventing the diseases incident to a protracted voyage. Before the company proceeds on the voyage, each member should subscribe to a code of regulations, and officers be appointed to carry them into effect. This arrangement should be made in order to obviate the vexation and annoyance which inevitably occur wherever a large number of persons are promiscuously on shipboard. A simple system, such as regularity of meals and cleansing the interior of the ship, similar to the Navy regulations in that particular, are indispensible and will contribute much to the pleasure, comfort, health, and good fellowship of all on board.
The company should be composed of practical persons— Agriculturists, Mechanics, and Artisans, as nearly equal in pecuniary condition and intelligence as circumstances will admit, and it would be very important for the most useful and necessary arts to be well represented. By such an organization, the company would be very efficient; for by taking on board cloth, leather, iron, lumber, brick, &c. their clothing, shoes, iron and wood work of a brick house might be made on board. And would employ the various mechanics connected with those arts, would tend to relieve the monotony of the ocean, and PRACTICALLY illustrate the benefits and many advantages of a true association of interests.
The agricultural implements of the most approved method, together with the choicest varieties of young fruit trees and garden seeds, should be provided. Instead of the usual ballast for the vessel, brick and lime, if necessary, could be taken for that purpose, which might be used by the company or disposed of to great advantage at San Francisco. The vessel might be profitably employed in transporting passengers to and from the Isthmus, with great profit to the company, of which the officers and ship's company should be members. A skillful surgeon should belong to the association. Every member of the company should contribute all the useful books he could, as a library on ship-board would be a constant source of amusement and instruction.
Persons about embarking on so long a voyage should be very particular and have their provisions carefully put up. The United States service rations will be found to be very economical. The following is the weekly allowance per man:—
Sunday 14 oz. bread, 11/4 lb. beef, 1/2 lb. flour. Monday 14 oz. bread, 1 lb. pork, 1/2 pint beans. Tuesday 14 oz. bread, 2 oz. cheese, 1 lb. beef. Wednesday 14 oz. bread, 1 lb. pork, 1/2 pint of rice. Thursday 14 oz. bread, 11/4 lbs. beef, 1/2 lb. flour. Friday 14 oz. bread, 4 oz. cheese, 2 oz. butter, 1/2 pint rice, 1/2 pint molasses, 1/2 pint vinegar. Saturday 14 oz, bread, 1 lb. pork, 1/2 pint beans, 1/2 lb. raisins.
The spirit ration is omitted.
This is sufficient for the hardest-working seaman. The flour should be kiln dried; any baker can do it. It is only necessary to evaporate all the moisture, and pack it in air-tight casks. Pine-apple cheese is the best and should be put up in water-tight boxes, saturated in alcohol. Sour crout, pickles, &c. are excellent anti-scorbutics, and should be eaten freely. Be careful and lay in a good store of "salt water soap."
N. B. The flour should be packed in casks that have contained distilled spirits.
A vessel bound for California by the way of Cape Horn by touching at Rio Janeiro, Brazil and Callao, in Peru, would divide the voyage into three periods, increasing its interest without much addition to its length of time. Rio Janeiro has one of the most magnificent harbors on the globe, far surpassing in natural grandeur the bay of Naples. The approach to the stupendous mountain coast is inexpressibly grand. The entrance to the capacious roadstead is through a narrow strait of great depth of water unobstructed by rock or shoal, flanked on the North by the huge fortress of Santa Cruz; on the South the "Sugar Loaf" rock proudly rears its lofty cone near one thousand feet above the surface of the deep. The entire bay is nearly surrounded by numerous mountain peaks of every conceivable form.
Leaving Rio we prepare to encounter the terrors of the "Horn," having overcome its Westerly gales and "head-beat seas" debouching on the vast Pacific, we career onward before the "trades" to Callao, the port of Lima and capital of the Peruvian Republic. Here the refreshments peculiar to the Tropics are plenty and of excellent quality. We ride at anchor over the ancient City of Callao, (destroyed and sunk by an earthquake 1746,) in sight of the lofty Andes, the mighty cones of Pichnia and Cotopaxi blazing their volcanic fires far above the region of eternal snow, their ice- frosted summits glittering in the sun, forming a dazzling contrast with the clear deep azure of the tropical skies.
Waving adieu to Callao, our canvas spread to woo the "trades," we sweep onward to Alta-California, and entering the "Golden Gate" of the Cornucopia of the Pacific, drop our anchor in the bay of San Francisco.